Netanyahu approves the plan to invade Palestinian Rafah and describes Hamas’s demands as unrealistic

A statement issued by Netanyahu’s office said that in addition, the Israeli army is preparing to evacuate residents and displaced people from Rafah.

Israeli Channel 7 said that Netanyahu described – during a war council meeting – Hamas’s demands in a proposal regarding the exchange of prisoners and hostages as “unrealistic.”

The statement from Netanyahu’s office added that an Israeli delegation will go to Qatar in order to conduct negotiations on a prisoner exchange deal and a ceasefire, and that the delegation will present Israel’s position on the Hamas proposal that the war council discussed earlier today.

The channel said that the mini-ministerial council for political and security affairs (the expanded cabinet) will meet to discuss the position that the Israeli delegation will bring to the negotiations in Qatar.

Hamas’ proposal includes a first phase of releasing Israeli hostages, including women, children, the elderly, and the sick, in exchange for the release of between 700 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, according to several Israeli and international reports. The proposal includes the release of 100 Palestinian prisoners serving life sentences in Israeli prisons, and the release of Israeli female soldiers.

Hamas said that it would agree to a date for a permanent ceasefire after the initial exchange of hostages and prisoners, according to the proposal, and that a final date would be agreed upon for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza after the first phase, and that all detainees from both sides would be released in a second phase of the plan.

Despite Netanyahu’s approval of the plan to invade Rafah, the military analyst in Haaretz newspaper, Amos Harel, wrote an article today in which he questioned the ability of the Israeli army to cause real damage to Hamas’ capabilities in Rafah without occupying it. He added, “Contrary to official Israeli statements, it appears that there is still no ability for the Israeli army to launch a military operation in Rafah.”

Harel pointed out that “evacuating the residents and displaced people from Rafah will take many weeks, and the Israeli army must allocate for this large regular forces, which are not deployed in southern Israel, and reserve forces, most of whose soldiers have been demobilized to their homes.”

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